Australia must lift the incomes of the bottom 40%

| March 13, 2018

As a key advocate of meeting Australia’s commitment to reducing poverty and inequality in Australia by 2030, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is co-hosting the second Australian Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) summit in Melbourne on Tuesday 13 March 2018.

The summit is a high-level multi-stakeholder forum to advance national implementation of the goals in Australia. It will do so by taking stock of national progress on their implementation across all sectors, mapping priorities areas for cooperation as well as steps to achieving the goals.

Although the Australian Government has endorsed the SDGs, its has refused to take one of the first required steps of implementation: establishing a national benchmark against which to measure poverty.

The lack of focus on a poverty measure and exclusion of poverty impact analyses in government policy-making has contributed to an increase in poverty in Australia over the past ten years.

We have more than 3 million people living in poverty in Australia, in a population of just 24 million.

If we are to meet our SDG commitment and cut poverty in half by 2030, we must lift the incomes of the bottom 40% of Australia’s population.

The first immediate step is raising the rate of our lowest income support payments. Lifting these payments by $75 per week would reduce poverty for hundreds of thousands of people across Australia.

Secondly, we must improve employment outcomes for people who are locked out of paid work. There is just one job available for every eight people looking for work or more hours: Wages also need to be lifted.

Lifting people out of poverty has flow-on effects for the other SDGs. We know that health and education outcomes improve when people’s incomes increase. People are less stressed, are better able to provide for their children and look after themselves.

The Summit will contribute to the development of Australia’s first Voluntary National Review of the SDGs, due to be delivered to the UN’s High Level Political Forum in July 2018.

The summit is co-organised by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), the Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA), the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Australia/Pacific (SDSN) and the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA).

The Australian Council for Social Service is a national advocate for action to reduce poverty and inequality and the peak body for the community services sector in Australia.

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Cassandra Goldie

Cassandra Goldie has been ACOSS CEO since July 2010. With public policy expertise in economic and social issues, civil society, social justice and human rights, she has represented the interests of disadvantaged people in several national and international processes as well as in grassroots communities.